BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
From the top, to the bottom, to the middle – is the story of FC Goa, as its campaign in the Indian Super League 9 came to an end after losing 1-3 to Bengaluru FC in their last match of the season.
Winning and losing are a part of football, but what matters more is how a team wins or loses a match and the quality of the playing. In the case of FC Goa, one cannot tell for sure where exactly they stand in terms of quality of performance since it was all over the place.
The question in 2019 was – why was Sergio Lobera, the most successful coach, sacked? The answer is not pertinent now, because through the years it has become clear that FC Goa, under Jaydev Mody, has still not gotten past its infancy stage in the game with a fickle performance record.
Consistency is the hallmark of any good football team, and by consistency, one means the ability to build a nucleus of able players around whom new players will flourish.
And, an example of inconsistency is the way the team failed to retain Ferran Corominas. Players matter more.
Coro was the best striker FC Goa had and arguably the best striker who played in ISL. Yet, when it came to renewing his contract, he was offered a lower wage when he had ended as the highest scorer in the league. This, in itself, tells a management story.
If age was a factor – for Coro being offered lower wages – then FC Goa must learn from Hyderabad FC which retained Bartholomew Ogbeche, who at 39 is one of the prolific scorers of ISL 9.
FC Goa has through the last few years not been able to maintain or create a nucleus of strong players and hence unable to create a core that helps consistency. Except for Edu Bedia, the team has got rid of the rest, and these constant changes are reflected in the outcome of ISL 9.
Edu Bedia has been with FC Goa for the last five seasons, but his perception and reading of the game were never as canny as Hugo Boumous or Ahmed Jahouh.
The last two named could weave game strategies around the abilities of their colleagues, whereas Edu expects his colleagues to respond to his calls.
Foreign players are one component of a team and Indian players are another and a much more important one, because it is the presence of local players that vastly determines the presence of people at a match.
And, FC Goa is too far away from the finishing line on this score too.
FC Goa has started promoting players from its youth structure set-up but has shied away from hiring players from outside Goa because of the cost.
This has resulted in youngsters with little exposure becoming part of the team instead of more seasoned Indian players.
Other clubs sign top Indian players whilst FC Goa is yet to sign any. FC Goa has been getting them young – hence, really cheap, and selling them to others for a profit. But financial profit does not help any team win titles.
Captain Brandon Fernandes, who was bought in an auction, is the only player FC Goa has retained. That Glan Martins, who was bartered, has been playing better in other teams should raise questions about the mental well-being of players with FC Goa.
FC Goa has been emphasising Spanish coaches and Spanish players. This happened soon after their media manager, who knows Spanish, was promoted to football director.
This emphasis on everything Spanish has begun raising questions because football in Goa has its own aura, and it is definitely not Spanish.
FC Goa has had players from different countries before and an array of top Indian players.
Earlier, more money was spent on football instead of on the management. This could be one reason why the team finished seventh – on the difference of a goal – in season 9.
For example, coach Carlos Pena, who retired from football just a year back, was picked up from an age-group team to lead a team in India’s top league. Obviously, the wage offered did the trick.
Liston Colaco, Rowllin Borges, Glan Martins, Lenny Rodrigues and Brandon Fernandes are five players from Goa shining in India.
Devendra Murgaonkar has already got a call from outside but the transfer fee is high. From these, only Brandon has been a constant.
When Salgaocar, Dempo and Sesa Goa started football clubs in the seventies, it was to give back. And as the next generation took over, the ball turned into a bond of love.
FC Goa should stop looking at football as a CSR exercise. Think football and think professionally. Only then will finishing at the top be less of a gamble.